2018/19 UEFA Youth League season guide

The format, the dates, the key contenders: all you need to know about the competition's sixth edition.

Barcelona will aim to retain their title
Barcelona will aim to retain their title ©Getty Images

UEFA Champions League path

The 32 youth teams of the clubs which qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage are in this path, with the draw decided by the UEFA Champions League draw.

Group A: Atlético Madrid (ESP), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Monaco (FRA), Club Brugge (BEL)

Group B: Barcelona (ESP, holders), Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), PSV Eindhoven (NED), Internazionale Milano (ITA)

Group C: Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Napoli (ITA), Liverpool (ENG), Crvena zvezda (SRB)

Group D: Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS), Porto (POR), Schalke (GER), Galatasaray (TUR)

Group E: Bayern München (GER), Benfica (POR), Ajax (NED), AEK Athens (GRE)

Group F: Manchester City (ENG), Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR), Lyon (FRA), Hoffenheim (GER)

Group G: Real Madrid (ESP), Roma (ITA), CSKA Moskva (RUS), Viktoria Plzeň (CZE)

Group H: Juventus (ITA), Manchester United (ENG), Valencia (ESP), Young Boys (SUI)

• Among the hopefuls in this path are holders and two-time winners Barcelona. The 2016/17 winners Salzburg could join them if their senior side progress through their UEFA Champions League play-off.

2018 final: Chelsea 0-3 Barcelona
2018 final: Chelsea 0-3 Barcelona

• Ajax, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern München, Benfica, CSKA Moskva, Juventus, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Porto and Real Madrid all keep up their records of entering all six editions of this competition (along with domestic champions path hopefuls Anderlecht).

• Barcelona and Real Madrid have both played a record 41 games in this competition. Barcelona have the most wins, 31, while Madrid have scored more goals than anyone else, 113.

Domestic champions path

First round (2/3 & 23/24 October)

Altınordu (TUR) v HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Žilina (SVK) v Montpellier (FRA)
Basel (SUI) v Hamilton Academical (SCO)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) v Septemvri Sofia (BUL)
Elfsborg (SWE) v KR (ISL)
Anderlecht (BEL) v FC Admira (AUT)
Midtjylland (DEN) v Bohemians (IRL)
Chelsea (ENG) v Molde (NOR)
AEL Limassol (CYP) v PAOK (GRE)
Sigma Olomouc (CZE) v Maribor (SVN)
Gabala (AZE) v Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA)
Hertha Berlin (GER) v Lech Poznań (POL)
Astana (KAZ) v Vllaznia (ALB)
Anji (RUS) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)
Viitorul (ROU) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Minsk (BLR) v Illés Akadémia (HUN)

Second round (7 & 28 November)

Anderlecht (BEL)/FC Admira (AUT) v Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)/Septemvri Sofia (BUL)
Midtjylland (DEN)/Bohemians (IRL) v Basel (SUI) v Hamilton Academical (SCO)
Altınordu (TUR)/HJK Helsinki (FIN) v Žilina (SVK)/Montpellier (FRA)
Elfsborg (SWE)/KR (ISL) v Chelsea (ENG)/Molde (NOR)
AEL Limassol (CYP)/PAOK (GRE) v Minsk (BLR)/ Illés Akadémia (HUN)
Gabala (AZE)/Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA) v Hertha Berlin (GER)/Lech Poznań (POL)
Astana (KAZ)/Vllaznia (ALB) v Viitorul (ROU)/Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Sigma Olomouc (CZE)/Maribor (SVN) v Anji (RUS)/Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)

The domestic youth champions of the 32 best-ranked associations in the 2017 UEFA association coefficient rankings (the same rankings used to decide access to the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League). The 32nd-ranked association, Liechtenstein, have no domestic youth competition, so their place is taken by Hungary, ranked 33rd.

2015/16 final highlights: Chelsea win again
2015/16 final highlights: Chelsea win again

• Chelsea, who won the competition in 2014/15 and 2015/16 but lost last season's final to Barcelona, enter this path.

• If a team was eligible for both, they enter the UEFA Champions League path.

• A vacancy in the domestic champions path (including if a club is instead eligible for the UEFA Champions League path, for example Atlético Madrid and Internazionale Milano) was filled by the domestic youth champion of the next best-ranked association (in those cases Moldova and Iceland).

Contenders: Hertha Berlin (GER), Chelsea (ENG), Montpellier (FRA), Anji (RUS), Dynamo Kyiv (UKR), Anderlecht (BEL), Altınordu (TUR), Sigma Olomouc (CZE), Basel (SUI), PAOK (GRE), FC Admira (AUT), Dinamo Zagreb (CRO), Viitorul (ROU), Midtjylland (DEN), FC Minsk (BLR), Lech Poznań (POL), Elfsborg (SWE), Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR), Hamilton Academical (SCO), AEL Limassol (CYP), Molde (NOR), Gabala (AZE), Septemvri Sofia (BUL), Astana (KAZ), Maribor (SVN), Žilina (SVK), Illés Akadémia (HUN)*, Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA)**, KR (ISL)**, HJK Helsinki (FIN)***, Vllaznia (ALB)***, Bohemians (IRL)***

*Entered as Liechtenstein do not have qualifying youth league
**Entered as Atlético and Inter qualified for UEFA Champions League automatically
***Entered as Benfica, PSV and Crvena zvezda qualified for UEFA Champions League via play-offs

• The draw for both rounds of this path was at 14:00CET on 4 September.

Competition system

UEFA Champions League path
The 32 clubs entering via the UEFA Champions League will compete in groups with the same make-up and fixture list as the senior competition.

• The eight group winners will progress straight to the round of 16.

• The eight runners-up will go into the play-offs.

Domestic champions path
The 32 teams will compete in two knockout rounds of home-and-away ties. There will be no seeding.

• The eight teams remaining after the second round will go into the play-offs.

Play-offs
The eight domestic champions path survivors will be drawn at home to the eight UEFA Champions League path runners-up in one-off ties to decide the eight remaining round of 16 berths.

Knockout phase and final
The knockout phase, starting with the round of 16, will consist of single-leg ties.

• The semi-finals and the final will be played on 26 and 29 April respectively at the Colovray Stadium opposite UEFA's Swiss headquarters in Nyon.

Player eligibility

• Players are eligible to play in the competition if they were born on or after 1
January 2000.

• Additionally, up to five players born on or after 1 January 1999 may be included on the squad list of 40 players, provided the player has been eligible to play for the club concerned without interruption for the two years immediately preceding 18 September 2018, or has been eligible to play for the club concerned for two of the three years immediately preceding 18 September 2018 and registered with another club from the same association for the other one. Only three of these players can be included in the matchday squad of 20.

• Any player who is fielded in three or more UEFA Champions League or UEFA
Europa League matches (as of the group stages of those competitions) in the
course of the 2018/19 season ceases to be eligible to play in the UEFA Youth
League.

More information can be seen in the competition's official regulations.

Season calendar

Pre-season draws
UEFA Champions League draw: 18:00CET, 30 August, Monaco
Domestic champions path draw (both rounds): 14:00CET,  4 September, Nyon

Autumn matches
UEFA Champions League path matchday one: 18/19 September
UEFA Champions League path matchday two: 2/3 October
Domestic champions path round one, first leg: 3 October
UEFA Champions League path matchday three: 23/24 October
Domestic champions path round one, second leg: 24 October
UEFA Champions League path matchday four: 6/7 November
Domestic champions path round two, first leg: 7 November
UEFA Champions League path matchday five: 27/28 November
Domestic champions path round two, second leg: 28 November
UEFA Champions League path matchday six: 11/12 December

Knockout dates
Play-off draw: 17 December
Play-offs: 19/20 February
Knockout draw (round of 16 onwards): 22 February
Round of 16: 12/13 March
Quarter-finals: 2/3 April
Semi-final: 26 April, Nyon
Final: 29 April, Nyon

Still confused? Let this graphic explain what happens...

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